Founders Series – Tom Fender, Managing Director at Bolt Learning

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Founders Series – Tom Fender, Managing Director at Bolt Learning

SBNN Founders series is sponsored by SureVoIP – A SaaS provider of business grade VoIP and business phone services

 


Tom Fender is managing director of Bolt Learning a company which trains and develop their people by delivering high quality elearning supported by powerful analytics and insight.

What is your background?

I co-ran/owned a shopper insights business from 1997-2015 which specialized in food and drink retailing, particularly smaller format stores like convenience stores.  We worked with all the main retail chains and suppliers to provide them with relevant insights on how to grow sales by delivering against shoppers’ expectations.

How did you get involved withBolt Learning?

I am an initial seed investor in Bolt.  The company was founded by Tamlin Roberts.  He has had a long background in education and digital technology.  Creating Bolt is a culmination of these two areas of expertise for him.

Why was the company launched?

Tamlin wanted to create high quality training which companies could use to develop their people and stay ahead of the competition.  Companies need to remain agile and flexible – people need to learn new skills quickly.

Give us a brief history of the growth of the company

The first year or so was about building the company (ie website, opening offices, building a team).  Then we started winning contracts in the construction industry. Then I decided to join to help bring Bolt into other industries – eg retail, where I have worked in for a while.  I believe we have created something very relevant and people seem to like our offering.

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Have you taken any external funding?

No.  We have survived our first 4 years on the initial funding put in.  Now that we believe we have achieved proof of concept, we would like to raise funds to help accelerate the growth of the company.

So what does it look like now with regard to staff and turnover?

About £1m in revenues and about 20 staff. Revenue is growing at about 30% a year.

What’s the difference between when you started and now in your marketplace?

I believe Bolt is now quite well known in some of the industries we operate in and that’s testimony to the team for creating good products and services, and the marketing team for creating good engagement/awareness strategies.

What is your target market –  Who is buying your product / service?

Organisations with over 500 employees

What are your goals for your business?

Raise finance then spend it wisely to fund growth.  

What are your biggest current challenges?

Identifying the channels we want to play in – ie focus.  Virtually any company with over 500 staff could be a ‘prospect’ for Bolt.  We’re therefore a bit like a mosquito in a nudest camp – so much to go after we don’t know where to start!  But we think we have picked our channels well and are working hard to win friends and clients in these sectors.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Getting companies to back up their claims that ‘people are our biggest asset’ and to invest in their development

What do you do outside work?

I love sport (watching and participating) as well as travel and food (all of these with my family and friends)

What do you know now that you wished you had known earlier?

Not to be afraid of technology!  We don’t necessarily need to know HOW technology works, we just need to know what it can do for us.  I still don’t know how a car works really – but I’m happy to drive one. The same is true with technology.

What’s the secret to good leadership?

Employing great people and then creating the right environment and culture to enable everyone to perform to the best of their abilities.  I think leadership is also about exploring ‘what if’ ideas regularly….a then lead by example. People should enjoy their jobs and coming to work!

Where do you see the company in five years?

Hopefully five times bigger than it is today (at least!)

How can the Scottish startup/entrepreneur landscape be improved to help more businesses start up and grow?

I think the Scottish government already do a lot to support small companies.


Tom Fender is managing director of Bolt Learning a company which trains and develop their people by delivering high quality elearning supported by powerful analytics and insight.

This interview is part of the Founders Series for SBNN sponsored by SureVoIP – A SaaS provider of business grade VoIP and business phone services

If you would like to take part in the Founder Series please email founders@sbnn.co.uk

If you are interested in sponsoring the Founder Series please also email founders@sbnn.co.uk

By |2018-08-02T22:30:37+00:00July 26th, 2018|Business News, Founders Series, Growth, Interviews, National, Technology|Comments Off on Founders Series – Tom Fender, Managing Director at Bolt Learning

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